What is a letter of testamentary and why do I need one?

You plan to help with your parents’ estate when they pass away. You know it’s a big job. You want to help distribute assets, sell the house, talk to your siblings about asset division, close out bank accounts, pay the bills and much more. Despite the workload, you’re happy to lend your skills and help this process go smoothly.

But can you? Do you have the right qualifications, and are you even allowed to do all of this? That’s where a letter of testamentary comes into play.

Named in the will

Ideally, your parents will have named you as the person who was allowed to administer the estate. You may be referred to as the estate executor. They have hopefully left you some instructions regarding what they want you to do, but, even if they haven’t given you detailed instructions, they should have still selected you as the person for the job.

If so, when the court reads that will, they can issue you a legal letter of testamentary showing that you have proper authorization. This can help you in numerous ways. For instance, you may have trouble accessing financial accounts without paperwork showing you’re allowed to do so. You have to take control of secured assets and accounts that were in someone else’s name, and institutions do not give permission lightly.

Your official recognition as the administrator for the estate can also help if any of your siblings think that they should handle the job instead. This is why it’s so important for people to do their estate planning in advance. It eases all of these concerns, answers questions and ensures that all heirs and beneficiaries know exactly how to proceed.

Other questions

We know this can be a complex process. We also know that it’s important for you and your family to get it right. If you have any other questions, our experienced firm would be glad to answer them for you.

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